Monday, December 18, 2006

Canadian Wheat Board must Stand

A government, and elected representitives, are supposed to do what the people want. In my province, Saskatchewan, there are 14 federal ridings. 12 of these have Conservative MPs. So one may rightfully think that these MPs are supposed to do what the farmers say. As you may know, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) board of directors consists of 15 seats. In the last election of these seats (Dec. 2006), 8 of the seats were filled with people who support the monopsony (supposedly it is technically not a monopoly) of the CWB. Therefore, it is quite clear that the majority of Western grain farmers support the monopsony of the CWB. But yet the majority of Saskatchewan MPs do not. So yet again, Conservatives do not listen to their constituents.

The Conservatives, of course, do not support the current, single-desk system of the CWB. They want to keep the board, but let farmers market their own grain to whomever they want. See, the CWB has pretty much the same system as labour unions do: strength in numbers. I am quite sure that General Mills does not put the best interest of farmers before their profits. If there is no 'union', they can quite easily exploit the farmers. But with there is a 'union', either they can buy Canadian wheat, or they cannot buy Canadian wheat. And if they choose to buy it (and they need to in order to grow sales), they must pay a fair price to farmers. It is a truly wonderful and remarkable system.

In defense of Chuck Strahls' (Minister of Agriculture) schemes to destroy single-desk, they say that they have a "mandate" by Canadians to do so. I have a few points against that. 1. Canada-wide, they only got 36% of the popular vote. 2. In Saskatchewan, they only got 48.9% of the vote (not quite a majority) 3. I am sure farmers do not cast their vote based on one issues 4. When farmers do cast their vote on one issue (CWB election, 2006), they say that they want to keep the current system.

So why are the Conservatives against the Wheat Board? Well, it could be that they just are anti-family farm, don't listen to Canadians, are in a trance that they have a mandate, or, most likely of the four, they favor large, American corporations to individual Canadians. As we all well know, American corporations and the Bush administration have long been foes of the CWB. They have released reports and whatnot, but the World Trade Organization has cleared the CWB from wrong-doing. In other words, the Americans want the destruction the the Board, therefore so do the Conservatives. Do you see what is wrong with this picture? Canadian Wheat Board must be a pretty good organization, even American farmers think that it is a good idea, and they would like the CWB to also have jurisdiction south of the border.

To conclude, I would like to give my full support to those farmers and their coalitions that are fighting to keep the Wheat Board alive. Keep on fighting!


leftdog said...

To me, this is clearly a pure ideological fight. I read a comment from an 'anti-single desk' farmer who wants the CWB done away with. He acknowledged that he will likely make LESS money on his crops over the future without the Board, BUT, he believes it is a matter of choice as to who he sells his grain to.

There are some Canadian farmers who live close to the US border (Minnesota, N. Dakota and Montana) who want to be able to whip a load of wheat across the line for a few cents extra per bushel on those odd days where the spot elevator price is a bit higher in the US for a few hours or days based on the American market.

That, however, does not help CDN farmers away from the US border.

This is a case where the good of the greater number outweighs the desires of the few, and wheat board opponents are now trying to make this a 'minority rights' issue.

Complicated. AND... then there is the American side to the issue - the big US grain companies HATE the CWB yet can't win even one (of many) international trade complaint hearings. The big US firms LUST for the Candian market action - $$$$$-

Sammysam said...

Yeah, the farmers who are against the CWB admit that they'd make less money without the board, but they say it is a violation of their rights. You think that they'd support making more money!!

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